Newell's first trial resulted in a mistrial, so Hennepin County Prosecutor Brad Johnson got in there and took care of business, bringing home the long-awaited conviction. Johnson is currently running for Anoka County Attorney, click here.
According to what I was told about the sentencing by an observer, sheriff's deputies were there and keeping people out because it was...
...already full inside. The people inside appeared to be mostly Newell family and supporters, some of which apparently came from her church. There was an odd air of confidence in these spectators, and some loose talk about how maybe the sentence wouldn't be too bad at all. Why, maybe she'd even get probation and no prison time at all! But, instead, Newell got three years. She will likely serve two years in prison, and then parole for a year after.
It was about 3:45 p.m. when the court room emptied and there was much crying and hugging in the hallway. An individual who appeared to be a defense attorney spoke to an individual presumed to be a family member, saying something like, "The letter you wrote helped, really."
Suddenly there was a cry from an anguished voice--it came from either inside the courtroom, or the elevator on the other side of the court room. A male voice said, "I CAN'T DO THIS ON MY OWN!" The tone was a tone of despair. Who emitted the cry is unknown, but one would assume it was a close family member.
The prosecutor in this case asked for 122 months, which is a bit more than ten years. What the government had asked for was "a guidelines sentence for a severity level 9 offense," which would have been consistent with other mortgage fraud cases in Hennepin County, like Larry Maxwell, click here. Instead, the government got a guideline sentence for a Level 6, lower than what the government asked for.
Newell is currently 40 years old and will go away until she is 42, then on parole until 43. If she reoffends before the Year of Our Lord 2020, it's on His Honor Judge Tom Sipkins. Hennepin County asked for more. Let these words endure until at least 2020, if somebody has need to quote them. (It should be noted the judge was Sipkins, but the courtroom was that of Judge Janish, pronounced Yan-ish)
This case was reportedly one of Judge Sipkins' first criminal cases, and in this instance the defendant was a mother with 10 children (you read that right) at least five of which are under 18. The children were in the court room during the trial, almost every day according to one source.
(For the record--and most of my friends are likely to disagree--I do not find this manipulative practice of using children as a legal "human shield" to be at all objectionable. It is my position that nothing should be thicker than family blood. Simultaneously, I believe Newell should have gone away for 10 years and, for the record, I'm sure all that mortgage fraud money bought many unearned goodies for that extremely large brood of offspring. I hope there's enough fraudulent money squirreled away somewhere to pay for a vasectomy)
Newell's husband is a fire fighter in Minneapolis. One way to look at Newell's sentence is like this: she will miss a total of ten years of her children's lives.
In an incredibly odd footnote of arcane trivia: Susan Newell shares her name with that of the last woman hanged in Scotland, click here.
(Blogging from near Disney World, Florida)